EU’s USB-C mandate approval puts pressure on Apple to replace Lightning port

The European Union is moving forward with legislation requiring USB-C charging for various types of consumer electronics. Today, the European Parliament formally approved the agreement agreed with the EU Council in September. The EU Council must then formally approve the agreement, after which it will be published in the Official Journal of the EU.

The announcement to Parliament confirmed the timetable and other affected categories of equipment. The legislation requires a USB-C port on all phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, earbuds, portable speakers, handheld video game consoles, e-readers, keyboards, mice and navigation systems sold in the EU. cable charging and support up to 100W power delivery “by the end of 2024,” Parliament said.

Laptops will be required to have USB-C charging “from spring 2026,” the announcement said.

The legislation also requires all fast chargers to use the same charging speed. This rule will be enforced by “reserved labels” describing charging options.

Once the rule is published, EU member states will have one year to transpose the rules, followed by another year to comply. The law only applies to products released after this deadline.

Parliament said the vote passed with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and eight abstentions.

May follow wireless charging regulations
When the EU announced plans to require USB-C charging in September 2021, some critics, including Apple, said such a regulation could hinder innovation. The European Commission has said it will work with vendors to adapt its regulation to new technologies if it deems the technology worthy. The EU’s universal charging mandate could one day require a different type of charging than USB-C, for example.

The European Parliament announcement briefly mentions wireless charging, although it does not specify how the EU government might try to regulate it.

“…The European Commission will have to harmonize interoperability requirements by the end of 2024 in order to avoid a negative impact on consumers and the environment,” reads the Parliament’s announcement. “This will also get rid of the so-called technological ‘lock-in’ effect, where the consumer becomes dependent on a single manufacturer.”

Wireless charging is one potential way around the EU’s USB-C requirement for companies that adamantly refuse to use the technology in their products, such as Apple and its iPhone. Although there have been rumors of Apple making a USB-C iPhone, the company prefers its Lightning connector, and while EU legislation would not ban the proprietary connector, it would require USB-C alongside it. However, an iPhone dependent solely on wireless charging would be impractical due to cost, data transfer issues, and chassis durability. Furthermore, it appears that the EU government may eventually regulate wireless charging as well.

The current iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Pro charge via USB-C instead of Lightning, so Apple has already shown a willingness to adopt the oval connector.

“Sustainable Choices”
Parliament’s announcement reiterated the EU government’s goals to reduce e-waste and “empower consumers to make more sustainable choices” with the USB-C mandate.

The governing body believes the legislation will “lead to greater re-use of chargers and help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases”.

“Discarded and unused chargers account for around 11,000 tonnes of e-waste (PDF) annually in the EU,” the announcement said.

Following the EU’s example, other parts of the world have started to look at how they regulate the charging of electronics. Brazil is considering a USB-C policy for phones, banning the sale of iPhones without a charger while encouraging Apple to implement USB-C charging. US lawmakers have also pushed for a policy of universal chargers.

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